Skip Navigation

Gender and Justice Speaker Series

Skip Side Navigation

Gender and Justice Speaker Series

The 2021-2022 Gender and Justice Speaker Series highlights OU faculty members engaged in innovative research projects in critical gender and ethnic studies. Coming from a range of departments across campus, these scholars offer multi-, trans-, and inter-disciplinary approaches to understanding how power structures organizes around gender, race, and other identities intersect. Together, these presentations invite us to explore the possibilities offered by fields of scholarship that can- and have-transformed our understanding of the world around us. 

Presentations will be given on Wednesdays from 12:00pm-1:30pm via Zoom.  Participants must RSVP to attend via Zoom. Please see the individual speaker information to RSVP. 

Failure to Protect: How Queer Politics Intervenes in the Logic of Children as Hubs of Security

Rodney wears a blue suit and smiles.

Dr. Meg Sibbett discusses how the settler logics of the state normalize violence in  the name of protection. Situating stories of imprisoned women and Oklahoma’s Failure to Protect statute alongside the need for comprehensive queer politics, she critiques the ways in which Black, Indigenous, Migrant, and Queer kids are (re)moved in order to secure the heteronormative state.

Dr. Sibbett is an Assistant Professor in the Women's and Gender Studies Department. Her scholarly fields include queer and trans feminist theory, LGBTQ studies, and queer activism and movements. Her research within these fields focuses on queer storytelling and imagination as a strategy for countering administrative and mundane violence. 

RSVP for Dr. Sibbett's talk. 

Can a Sea be a Settler? California’s Salton Sea & the Environmental Consequences of Colonialism

Dr. Voyles smiles for a headshot.

This talk explores California’s Salton Sea as an example of the ways that settlers maintain, shape, manage, and mismanage the nonhuman world. The Salton Sea’s history reveals how colonizers have restructured physical landscapes in ways that exert and reinforce processes that are part and parcel of settler colonial power relations: Indigenous dispossession, nationalist enclosure, and racial capitalism, in addition to environmental degradation.

Dr. Traci Brynne Voyles is an Associate Professor and chair of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Oklahoma. She is an award-winning teacher and researcher in the fields of environmental history, environmental justice, indigenous studies, feminist theory, and critical race studies.

RSVP for Dr. Voyles's talk. 

PACs Rule Everything Around Me: How Political Action Committees Shape Elections and Policy in the Local Context

Dr. Benjamin smiles for a headhsot.

The vast majority of research on interest groups tends to focus on the state and national levels (Baumgartner et al. 2009; Bergen 2009; Kollman 1998, Leech et al. 2005).  Recent scholarship has shifted to the local level, for good reason: there are a large number of cities that have organized interests and Political Action Committees (Anzia 2019a; Berry 2005; Reckhow 2009).  Additionally, the local political context varies from state and national contexts in two key ways: many of these elections take place off-cycle and many are non-partisan (Anzia 2014; Hajnal and Trounstine 2005).  Using data from and exit poll conducted during the 2017 municipal election in Durham, NC, I consider whether voters in Durham knew which PACs endorsed which candidates and whether knowing the endorsements of candidates is associated with their support for those candidates. I also show that local Political Action Committees  are similar to state and national interest groups. In these non-partisan contexts, they behave like political parties during election season by giving endorsements, sending mailers, and running get out the vote campaigns.  When election season is over, they continue their traditional interest group activities such as lobbying local elected officials.   

Andrea Benjamin is an Associate Professor in the Clara Luper Department of African and African American Studies at the University of Oklahoma.  She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 2010. Her research interests include Race and Politics, Local Elections and Voting behavior, and Public Opinion.  Her first book, Racial Coalition Building in Local Elections: Elite Cues and Cross-Ethnic Voting, explores the potential for Black and Latino Coalitions.  Using the Co-Ethnic Elite Cues Theory, the book shows that Blacks and Latinos rely on endorsements from co-ethnic leaders when casting their ballots.  This is especially true when race and ethnicity are salient in the campaign.  This book was published by Cambridge University Press in 2017.  Dr. Benjamin is currently working on a project about coalitions, electoral representation, and policy representation in local politics.  A majority of the data come from Durham, NC.  Dr. Benjamin lives in Oklahoma City and she currently serves on the Boards of Sally’s List, North East Oklahoma City Renaissance, and the Oklahoma ACLU.  She is also a co-chair of the Human Rights Commission Task Force in Oklahoma City.

RSVP for Dr. Benjamin's talk.

Differential Belonging: Comparative Racialization in American Muslim Women's Writing

Zeynep smiles in a white blouse.

Dr. Aydogdu discusses how multiethnic writers use the literary realm to envision coalition-based solidarities against the boundaries of race, gender, citizenship, and inclusion. Using the interdisciplinary methodologies of women of color feminist critique and theories of minor and postcolonial literature, she interrogates how contemporary immigrant women’s writing contextualizes and historicizes transnational practices of cultural identity and represents a heterogeneity that occupies multiple sites of resistance and transformation in solidarity with minoritized communities.

Dr. Zeynep Aydogdu is an Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Gateway to Belonging at OU at the University of Oklahoma. She specializes in the works of autobiography and fiction authored by immigrant women with a background in the Near/Middle East and South Asia. She has conducted research that weaves together the critical lenses of third world feminism,  women of color feminism, postcolonialism, and ethnic studies.

RSVP for Dr. Aydogdu's talk. 

When the Battles Go to War: An Exploration of How Bobby and Jasmine Battle Became the Oklahoma Faces of Mass Incarceration and the Black Family

Dr. Thibodeaux smiles in a tie.

This presentation recasts the traditional national narrative about prisoners’ rights by centering two Black Oklahomans and a city far removed from the commonly interrogated urban and southern sites of mass incarceration. By detailing the plights of the Battles, a once incarcerated father and daughter duo, the manner in which Oklahoma’s carceral state emerged, was reformed, and yet continues to thrive is made plain by this complicated and fascinating family saga.  And while the nation's prisoners' rights movement and mass incarceration itself have been framed in staunch masculinist terms, this particular Oklahoma example offers a new way of understanding the evolution of the state's carceral regime in explicit racial and gendered terms. 

Jermaine Thibodeaux is Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Trained in the department of History at the University of Texas at Austin, his academic interests include African American history, Texas history, carceral studies, slavery and capitalism, and Black masculinities. He is presently at work on a manuscript that explores the long and sordid connections between the Texas sugar industry and the rise of the state’s penitentiary system. That project, titled, “The House that Cane Built: Sugar, Race, and the Gendered Formations of the Texas Prison System, 1842-1920,” centers the commodity of sugar in a retelling of the prison system’s history and in so doing, foregrounds Black male convicts and their labor as crucial to the establishment and growth of the Texas carceral landscape.

RSVP for Dr. Thibodeaux's talk. 

Magic, landmines, and limitations: using Queer of Color Critique to reimagine our work with/in critical race, gender, and sexuality studies

Dr. Reid crosses his arms and looks at the camera. Black and white photo.

In this talk, I explore the possibilities that Queer of Color Critique affords us as researchers, policymakers, and practitioners committed to racial, gender, and sexual justice.

Shamari Reid is an Assistant Professor of Critical Studies in Education in the department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Dr. Reid earned his doctorate in Curriculum & Teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University. As a scholar, Dr. Reid’s research focuses on working with Black trans and queer youth and their communities to reimagine the ways we approach social justice teaching, learning, and educational leadership. You can engage more with Dr. Reid and his work on his personal website:

Keepers of the Dream: The Black Witness of the Jackson 5

Dr. James Hill looks at the camera. Image is in black and white.

This talk examines the advent of the Jackson 5 within the discourses of racial unrest and law and order texturing the United States of America at the dawn of the 1970s. Central to this talk will be the ways the Jackson 5 and their prodigious leader negotiated the politics of their generation, the fantastic dimensions of Black popular culture, and the theocratic convictions of a faith community (Jehovah's Witnesses) eagerly awaiting the end of the world.

James Howard Hill, Jr. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Oklahoma. He holds a B.A. from Criswell College, an M.T.S. from Southern Methodist University, and is an Advanced Ph.D. Candidate at Northwestern University. Hill, Jr. teaches courses and conducts research in black studies, religious studies, cultural studies, and the politics of popular culture. His scholarship has received recognition and support from The Heidelberg Center for American Studies (Heidelberg, Germany), The Henry Luce Foundation (Sacred Writes), the Forum for Theological Exploration, The Louisville Institute, Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, Social Science Research Council (SSRC), as well as the Mellon Cluster Research Fellowship in Comparative Race and Diaspora studies. In 2020, Hill, Jr. was awarded the Rubem Alves Award for Theopoetics in recognition of his contributions as a photographer whose art and scholarship reflect a commitment to imagination, art, and embodiment. His public commentary on race, popular music, sports, politics, and religion can be read in Black Agenda Report, The Syndicate, Black Perspectives, and The Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, among other outlets.

RSVP for Dr. Hill's Talk

Genealogies of Empowerment and the Makings of Home: Puerto Rican/Latina Activism at the University of Illinois, 1970-1990

Dr. Velazquez smiles at the camera in a red dress.

This project historicizes the experiences of Puerto Rican women and other Latina student activist at a large research university, from 1970-1990. The oral histories and archival research will challenge monolithic readings of higher education and gender, by centering the activism, physical labor, and legacy of Puerto Rican women and other Latinas in creating spaces to meet the diverse needs of students.

Mirelsie Velázquez, PhD, is an associate professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and the Rainbolt Family Endowed Education Presidential Professor at the University of Oklahoma. As a historian of education, her work centers race, gender and sexuality, and the history of urban education. Her book, Puerto Rican Chicago: Schooling the City, 1940-1977 (University of Illinois Press 2022), chronicles the Puerto Rican community’s response to the urban decay in which they were forced to live, work, and especially learn. Her work has most recently appeared in the journals Latino Studies, Centro, and Gender and Education.

RSVP for Dr. Velazquez's Talk